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At What Point Does Research Misconduct Become A Crime?


Time-consuming assignments present all kinds of temptations to cheat, especially when grades or money are at stake.  It’s easy to feel superior to the rich kids in college and in private high schools that pay other people to do their assignments for them, but how sure are you that you would not do the same thing if your chances of protecting your GPA were greater than your chances of getting caught?  With your own limited resources, didn’t you ever just make things up for term papers, citing random sources and hoping that your professors would not check them?  The “publish or perish” system of academic publishing has come under criticism for exactly this reason; the Retraction Watch website abounds with tales of research misconduct.  Usually, the worst that happens is that papers get retracted and, in extreme cases, serial offenders lose their faculty positions.  In most cases, though, research misconduct is not a crime.  Criminal charges can apply if someone suffered preventable physical harm because of the research misconduct, but most criminal cases involving wrongdoing by researchers involve fraud, where researchers are accused of knowingly making false statements for their own financial gain.  If you are being accused on criminal misconduct in the context of your work in a research lab, contact a West Palm Beach white collar crime lawyer.

Eight Defendants Face Criminal Charges for Falsifying Data of Clinical Trials

Clinical trials that took place between 2014 and 2016 resulted in criminal prosecution for eight employees of Tellus, a research lab in Miami.  Pharmaceutical companies hired Tellus to conduct clinical trials on the effectiveness and clinical applications of certain drugs.  The studies in question were on the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), opioid use disorder, and diabetes-related kidney disease.

The eight employees of the lab allegedly conspired to keep for themselves some of the money that the pharmaceutical companies had given them as part of the budget for the studies.  Specifically, they recruited fewer participants than the studies required, pocketing the money meant as compensation for the participants they did not recruit.  To conceal this fact, they entered made-up data for the non-existent participants.  Some of the conspirators used the identifying data of their acquaintances to represent the identifying data of non-recruited study participants.

By the fall of 2022, five employees of the lab had pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with the falsified studies.  These were Duniel Tejeda, Nayade Varona, Eduardo Navarro, Analay Rico, and Daylen Diaz.  They received prison sentences ranging from 24 to 46 months.  Martin Valdes, Fidalgo Font, and Julio Lopez pleaded not guilty, but news reports have not mentioned the outcome of their trials; the cases were still pending as of October 2022.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 39 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.




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